More castles for curious tourists to storm

November 07, 1999|By Linda DuVal | Linda DuVal,Colorado springs gazette

Other Colorado castles can be explored up close or admired from afar.

In the courtyard of Cleveholm Manor, for example, tourists remark on the marble horse trough and the ornate covered portico over the front door.

That's just the beginning. And, also, an end.

Tours of the famous Redstone Castle, as it's called by locals in Redstone, have ceased.

The castle recently was sold to an investment group that plans to turn it into a luxury hotel and spa, and locals are relieved it will remain open. Because, as it was in the beginning, the castle is the heart of the tiny mountain town.

Tour-guide Michelle Sorter tells us the castle-like mansion was built 100 years ago by John C. Osgood. Osgood, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and orphaned at an early age, was a visionary, she says.

In 1882, he came to the valley where Redstone is, just 40 miles from Aspen, and found a few unsuccessful gold prospectors willing to sell their claims. Osgood bought those claims for $500; they would yield $48 million in coal.

He started building a house in 1898 and finished the 42-room castle in 1903. He brought in stonemasons, blacksmiths and other crafters to do the work. There were 160 acres to be surrounded by hand-forged wrought-iron fence, for one thing. He used marble from the quarry in the nearby town of Marble for his horse trough but imported Italian marble for the house itself.

Luxuries abound in the house. The Russian dining room, for example, has a gold-leaf ceiling and ruby velvet walls. A dining table of Honduran mahogany seats 12 -- and is a seamless piece of wood.

In 1926, Osgood died of lung cancer. There have been a succession of owners since then, and the property has served as a guest ranch and a private home. In 1974, it was purchased by Ken Johnson, a Colorado businessman who made it into a bed-and-breakfast, with public tours.

Johnson sold it two years ago, but there had been numerous financial problems until its recent purchase. No reopening date has been set.

Miramont Castle

Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs was built by a French priest and has been through many incarnations; it now is a historic site with public tours.

The 14,000-square-foot, 46-room red-stone castle was built in 1895 as a private home by the Rev. Jean Baptiste Francolon, a French-born Catholic priest, for his mother and himself. It mixes Queen Anne, Romanesque, English Tudor, Byzantine, Moorish, Flemish, Chateau and Venetian architectural styles, and several photos show how some rooms originally were furnished.

When the castle was built, it had indoor plumbing and electricity. It's now full of Victorian furnishings, none of which is original to the castle but represent the period.

Where: 9 Capitol Hill Ave., Manitou Springs. To get there, take U.S. 24 west to Manitou Springs (take the second exit) and follow the exit to Manitou Avenue, where you turn west and go to Ruxton Avenue. Turn left (south) and go to Capitol Hill Avenue and follow the signs.

Hours: Tours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in summer, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. January-March. Closed Mondays.

Admission: $4 for adults, $1 for children 6-11.

Information: 719-685-1011.

Glen Eyrie

The stunning Glen Eyrie mansion, near Garden of the Gods, was built from locally quarried Bear Creek stone by Gen. William J. Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs and co-founder of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.

Scottish architect John Blair was in charge of the castle's construction, which began in 1904 and was finished two years later. That same year, Palmer was injured in a horseback riding accident and was paralyzed for the last three years of his life. The 67-room, 30,000-square-foot castle, built in the English Tudor style, sits on 800 acres at the mouth of Queen's Canyon and features a massive Indiana limestone fireplace, central vacuum and air-pollution systems, and some original furnishings.

Between Palmer's death and its purchase in 1953 by the Navigators, an international Christian organization, the property had various owners. The Navigators use it primarily as a training center and retreat.

Where: 3820 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs. To get there, take Garden of the Gods Road west of Interstate 25 to 30th Street and turn left. The entrance to Glen Eyrie will be on the right, before you get to the Garden of the Gods. Follow signs to entry gate.

Hours: Guided tours are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and at 1 p.m. only on Saturdays and Sundays.

Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and children under 12.

Information: 719-634-0808.

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